Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lions Congregation: Defensive Player of the Year?

Just one question this week before the Lions Congregation panel once again delves into what was, and what could be throughout another ifseason - and it regards the Lions' Pro-Bowl rookie DT, Ndamukong Suh.

the Panel:

Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience 
Zac of The Sidelion Report
Steve of Detroit Lions Weblog
Joshua of DetFan1979 Lions Blog

Q:  Should Ndamukong Suh also be getting strong consideration for Defensive Player of the Year, not just Defensive Rookie of the year?  Will he win one or both?  Thoughts?

Al:  If there is a player who could win one of the NFL's 2010 awards unanimously, Suh taking Defensive Rookie of the Year could be it.

There's no doubt in my mind, Suh is an outright lock for DROY. He has been since mid season. The Lions prize rookie has been dominant from game one, and is still dominant going into game 16. There's not many, if any, first year interior defensive linemen who have to be game planned..except forNdamukong SuhOffenses ignore him at their peril...which they don't, as Suh is double teamed on almost every snap. 
Suh is starting in the Pro Bowl for a reason. He's damn good, and going to get better. The NFL can start engraving the DROY award with Suh'sname. 

As for Defensive Player of the Year, it's not going to happen. The NFL's DPOY award will almost assuredly go to either Packers LB Clay Matthews Jr. or Ravens DT Haloti Ngata. Both are excellent players having great seasons. But more importantly, the Packers and Ravens are teams with winning records and are going to the post season (Ravens are locked in, Packers hold their own destiny, or could back in with help).
Suh will get his shot at DPOY/MVP awards. It could happen as soon as next season...if the Lions to continue to improve in the standings. 

I'll go on record right now. If the Lions become a consistent playoff contender in the next few seasons, Suh will win a least one Defensive Player of the Year award. You can book it. But it won't be this season. Not that Defensive Rookie of the Year is a bad consolation prize.

Hope all is well, and happy holidays!
Zac:  Ndamukong Suh deserves consideration for Defensive Player of the Year but I don't know that I would go so far as to say strong consideration. I'm sure his name will pop into the head of many voters when they think about the great defensive players of this year but there are a lot of other players that are worthy of the award. Justin Tuck's 75 tackles, 12 sacks and 6 forced fumbles give him a strong resume for the award and I might consider him the front runner. Patrick Willis, Cameron Wake and Clay Matthews have also had great seasons. Suh has to be the favorite as Defensive Rookie of the Year, followed by Devin McCourty, and could be a Defensive Player of the Year winner in the next couple of years.

Steve:  Should Ndamukong Suh receive consideration for NFC Defensive Player of the Year? Hell, Yes!

Let the results speak for themselves:

Suh has:9 sacks (1st for DT's)
60 combined tackles (3rd most for interior linemen, 1st DT)
1 interception returned for 20 yards
1 fumble recovery returned for a TD

Individual defensive statistics can be misleading, but let's look at some of the changes in Lions team defensive statistics from 09' to '10:

The Lions Total Team Defense was ranked 32nd in '09, and is currently 22nd in '10. They are allowing 39.7 fewer yards per game (392.1 to 352.4) and .5 yards fewer per play (6.1 to 5.6).

The most noticeable improvements have been made in team pass defense:

Opp. Pass Comp Pct: 68.1 to 63.8
Opp. Passing Yards: 4, 249 to 3, 361 (a decrease of 888 yards)
Avg: 8.1 to 7.5 (a decrease of .6 yards per pass)
Opp. Yd/G: 265.6 to 224.1 (a decrease of 41.5 yds/g)
TD/INT: 35/9 to 23/13 (12 fewer TD's, 4 more INT's)

Here is where Suh, and I believe the performance of the entire Lions defensive line has made it's biggest difference.

Completed Passes of 20 yards or more: 54 to 41
Completed Passes of 40 yards or more: 41 to 9
Sacks: 26 to 41 (+15!)
Opp. Qb Rating: 107.0 to 91.1

Opponents are being pressured to deliver shorter, quicker passes. Opposing Qb's are not being allowed to find a rhythm, nor are they able to exploit the weaknesses still lurking in the Lions secondary.

The Lions defense is still far from dominant, but even after injuries and roster deficiencies are accounted for, this team could not have possibly improved this much defensively solely because of another year of tutelage under Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham.

The Lions defensive line has been the single biggest factor which has made this team competitive and appearing on the verge of better things to come. An argument can be made for Corey Williams being the most dominant DT on the Lions roster, but no Lions defensive lineman has exhibited the playmaking and difference-making ability of Ndamukong Suh.

Suh's pernicious attitude on the field, which has consistently drawn double teams from opponents, has been infectiously influential upon the entire defense. The Lions defense is playing with a chip upon it's shoulder and not allowing opposing QB's to become comfortable.

In all likelihood, Suh will not receive legitimate consideration for the NFC Defensive Player of the Year. He has yet to establish the kind of pedigree or track record necessary to receive that kind of notice. That being said, watching one of the league's all-time worst pass defenses become viable and respectable, albeit still residing in the middle of the pack, largely has to be attributed to the Lions biggest off-season addition, Ndamukong Suh.

Suh is a shoo-in for NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year, and is a top five finalist for NFC Defensive Player of the Year. If nothing else, no one off-season addition can be considered to be remotely as propitious as the Lions draft selection of Suh, who has changed the face of the entire franchise.

Josh: What can I say?  DROY is a cold stone lock.  Possibly unanimous.  Devin McCourty is mentioned, but while having a good season, how many other rookie DT's have been double teamed from their first snap in preseason?

Yeah. Exactly.  Suh is all he was advertised to be and more.  All those temper your expectations people are looking at his performance this season and making us wonder if this is his rookie year, what better things are to come?  Hellz yeah.  Good to be a Lions fan right now.

As for Defensive Player of the year...while the Lions are tagged as up and comers for next season, the team improvement as a whole, and Suh's impact on that just isn't registering for the national media yet -- and they just don't watch Lions games still.  The Lions GM isn't mentioned as a GM of the year candidate, despite having a 6-10 record with no starting QB all season, and the numerous trades and moves that brought the Lions from expansion team talent to competitive in just 2 years.  All this despite facing one of the toughest schedules in the NFL in terms of playing teams with winning records.  Same for Schwartz.

All that being said, a lot of deserving defensive players had great years, and the voters will consider Suh "awarded" for his efforts with the DROY.  Someone else will get the DPOY.  Next year, however...

If the Lions are in contention and make the playoffs, I'm guessing that the Lions will have lots of candidates for awards (outside of their two pro-bowlers CJ and Suh).  And it is very possible.

Do you have a question for the Lions Congregation?  Email


RIP said...

Did we already play 16 games this year? I thought we still had the Vikings tomorrow :)

RIP said...

Very good game against the Vikes. You could tell that this game meant something to them. Great to see the type ending we had and brought back memories of the Wayne Fontes era of finishing strong.

Just a quick note on your earlier post. After the Green Bay win I saw us drafting anywhere from 2 and 14. I did not realisticly think 2 or 14 was possible for there was alot of things that had to happen to get either pick. Now if Seahawks win tonight it looks like 14. This is a very good spot for us for our biggest need is in the back 7 for our defense.

It kind of appears the Peterson's carreer with our Leos is done. It would seem like B. Johnson and D. Williams in that order too. Too bad for all 3 for they had the talent. In Williams case, there are so many highly rated H.S. players (#1) and college players that do not have the desire, was going to mention the T word, to play in this league. I hope he reads something like this and turns it around.